Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Deja Who?

It's been a hard day.

Nothing bad happened. Actually all the bad things have already happened and the clouds are clearing. That is usually when the tidal wave of emotion bowls me over while I'm making note of the sun and catching my breath.

 Are the things that have happened life altering and terrible? Absolutely not.

They are common, in fact, all too common. I have encountered challenging situations in relating to people the last couple weeks. And as the wave of emotion washes over me, I feel angry at myself for my actions and the realization that all of this has happened before. The struggles I encounter, whether with my kids, my husband, family, friends, or coworkers, are a result of patterns I continue to put into play. The people sometimes change, sometimes my reactions change but the instances that mushroom into "issues" are usually due to my reacting with my tried and true patterned behavior. If the old adage is true that life will continue to present these challenges to allow you the opportunity to correct it then I must be failing the test...every time.

This vent/post is less about what my patterns are but rather how to overcome them. Or do I overcome them? I try to embrace bad times and challenging situations, because I believe they are opportunities for growth. And I have read enough pop psychology that I can only control my reaction...right? Well, when I try different reactions I am still walking away with a raging fire in my belly to duke it out. Frustrated and tired of wasting my precious moments of life over thinking conversations and tense encounters, I want to solve the riddle of my patterns.

Life is good.

I have many gifts which included great people, encounters, experiences, etc. If this is my biggest struggle, then I guess I need to step into the ring and take the knocks I need to move past these patterns. Or at the very least learn to embrace them and the various people they bring into my life. One thing I have begun to notice, is there is a commonality in the people I have struggled with over the years. And if I am really honest with myself there are elements of my own personality that I don't like which I am irritated by. Such a cruel deja vu experience.

So, am I unfairly judging them because I am hard on myself? I can see that disentangling the person I am having trouble with from my patterns may be my quickest path to compassion. Now I just need to accept my demons are part of the journey and keep eye on the bigger picture...To enjoy as much of this crazy ride on this Earth.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reframing Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are so compelling. There are gorgeous gowns, dashing men, evil queens conquered and of course the happily ever after part. I can see how young girls are drawn in. Heck, even at 34 you can still get drawn in which is why Once Upon a Time has my attention this year. It usually doesn't take too much of life to realize real life consists of strategy, work clothes and flawed people. And the happily ever after part is elusive, fluid and short lived. At this point, I have come to except life isn't like the fairy tale, however I do wish I had the sound track. It would be really helpful in determining if the scene I was entering contained an evil person, playful banter or dream coming true.

Recently a friend sent me a text about her divorce being final. While I am happy for her to be moving on from a relationship which wasn't working for her, I was struck by her line "so much for the fairy tale." Despite it being a text, I felt the heaviness of the line. The self judgement and sadness that comes when fairy tale expectations meet real life solutions can be crushing. In my response I tried to convey that she doesn't have to close the book on the fairy tale, just turn to the next chapter. The power of all of it really got me thinking about fairy tales and my view of their message.

I see Prince Charming is a symbol instead of a person. Cinderella didn't need a man, she needed to feel worthy. By claiming her beauty, and believing she belonged at the ball she found her own self worth. It could have also been represented by throwing the scrub brush in the pail, throwing it at the step sisters and saying "I'm outta here." Being able to say those words takes a special type of magic which she got from her fairy god mother. In the world of less fairy dust and a severe lack of fairy god mothers, we have to cultivate our own magic. Be your own fairy godmother. It takes faith and believing in yourself to create the gown, the pumpkin carriage and the glass slippers. While your making all of these things the world and its messages aren't as supportive as the singing mice, and the 1 minute montage isn't an accurate time frame for these transformations.

Each day every human is confronted with their evil queen, demons, evil step sisters, etc. We can choose happily ever after by choosing to grow from them rather than be captivated in their spell. Confronting the demons that hold us back takes courage. Meanwhile your mind can calculate so many reasons not to take the chance. Rapunzel's story resonates with me because she was devoted and obedient to the evilness which kept her locked away from her prince and family. It only seems fitting that the key was her most beautiful asset. My self punishment and negative thoughts have held me captive.The freedom has come in just acknowledging the evil queen who pollutes my thoughts. The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite. Ariel's song "Part of Your World" captures the importance of independence from other expectations and is still one of my favorite shower songs. The ultimate message of that story for me is seeing that you can't leave behind your talents and gifts, and expect to find true happiness.When we attach people to these symbols in our real lives we strip ourselves of our power to make our own happiness.

As an adult I have developed such a fondness for children's stories that I could really go on and on. Don't even get me started on the power of Dr. Seuss. The power of a story and its messages follow children into adulthood. They help shape the world we see. Embracing their possible depth has brought wonder back into my life. I am not ready to ditch the fairy tale even though my story wouldn't make Disney billions of dollars, nor would I make a flattering doll. In real life you don't confront evil or bad things just once, it is a cycle which can make for many fairy tales in one lifetime.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Using Chaos to Find Clarity

I have often pleaded with my very very patient husband that I could get it done, feel at peace, deal with it, etc, if I just had time. Well, last year I got time. And it didn't happen. None of it. Fast forward through all the icky personal growth mumbo jumbo I experienced, I now am finishing my first semester of college after a 10 years. A course in mindfulness meditation opened my eyes to the misconception I had about time. I don't need time I need clarity. Tackling to do lists and confronting issues in my life doesn't take time, it takes quiet reflection and contemplation. The noise in my head was really bothering me. Finally being forced to sit with it has made me appreciate those overwhelming moments. For instance today: head swimming with chores, a pistachio cake in the oven, two rowdy boys who blew through every room like tornadoes, my hubby celebrating a birthday by not dealing with tornadoes, homework, boys homework, laundry and the nagging feeling Christmas needs to be addressed were all the thoughts flooding me as I stood in my laundry room trying to orient myself to what happens next. The automatic thought was to beg for more time to get it all done. As the plea was forming I closed my eyes, dropped in to my body, took a breath and sought clarity. Suddenly I wasn't asking the impossible of the universe, instead I was asking myself to lighten up and just enjoy the show.